Becoming A Monk

I read some stuff yesterday. The kind of things that chivvy you along on The Path… of becoming a monk.

There is no connection between the things I read, coming as they do, from diverse sources. Yet, in my mind they have connected. The sum of these connections is a cheerless, vaguely annoying conclusion. It is a sombre commentary on Things As They Are before they turn into Things As They Could Have Been.

On a forum I read somebody lamenting that their work was not being appreciated. There is nothing new about this lament.  Although each person who cries it out in despair for the first time, it is very surprising- and deeply hurting. There is nothing as depressing as the realization that people aren’t lining up outside your door to be given the Teeniest Glimpse Of Your Amazing Expertise (hereafter referred to as TGOYAE) nor are they wilting away and dying when they aren’t allowed the TGOYAE.

Why is your work not being appreciated? I’ll tell you why.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Eat pudding. Books are good. Eat pudding. If kids read a lot. Eat pudding. They’ll get so they can think clearly. Eat pudding. And if enough kids read and think. Eat pudding. We will have world peace. Eat pudding. Thank you very much. Eat pudding.

~ Daniel Pinkwater

Your work is not being appreciated because your target audience doesn’t remember it.

This isn’t necessarily out of malevolence. Its just how it is. People forget not because they don’t like you (or your work) but because the memory of it has been pushed aside to make room for something else.

I am reminded of a colleague with whom I was discussing a similar issue. He asked me, what I then thought it to be, a revoltingly dumb question.

“Have you heard of McDonald’s?”

“Of course I have!” I stared at him goggle- eyed. There seemed something so decadent about his question; almost sinister in its stupidity. What the hell was he AT?

“What line of business are they in?”

“Are you trying to be funny? They are in the food catering business.” He smiled at my attempt to be offensively accurate.

Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does.

~ Steuart Henderson Britt

“What percentage of their target audience, in your opinion, is aware of their existence in this industry?” he continued with maddening calm.

“About 95% I should think. I can’t imagine an urban dweller with enough resources to buy a meal not being aware of their existence. Specially if they have little humans infesting their lives.” All right, I confess! I was intrigued.

“If 95% of their target customers are already aware of them, why on earth do they advertise!? Have they money to burn?”




“Because…. um… actually… er… it doesn’t make sense. Why do they?”

Needless to say, I stood with reluctant feet in a pool where my smart-ass pomposity had met with my narrow tunneled vision.

“Because people forget things which aren’t in the forefront of their mind. McDonald’s advertise to remind, not to inform. They know that with many players vying for the attention of their patrons, the memory of their existence is likely to be pushed to the background. Their advertisements ensure that they remain in their patrons’ active memory.”

Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.

~ Samuel Johnson

“Ohhhh!” I breathed in wondrous worship.

“Incidentally, McDonald’s makes its big bucks from real estate and toy sales. The food catering side is merely incidental to them- in the nature of a prop”, was his parting shot.

I retrieved my fallen jaw and tottered away… to become a monk.

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17 thoughts on “Becoming A Monk”

  1. hahaha Nuggets of wisdom there, Dagny! Somehow, when I was reading the post, I went back to my Marketing Mgmt. classes in B-School. My teacher loved quoting McD examples. Yes, interesting how and what makes advertising so relevant.

    1. And yet Rachna, the food at McD, which is a side business in the first place, is just borderline average. There might be efficiency in producing it, there is no excellence in its quality.

      I know you got the point I was trying to make. 🙂

  2. There was this doyen of marketing who said, “Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle” – so, now that we are in the age of advertising, all we have is the sizzle; there ain’t no steak 🙂

    1. Oh Suresh! That totally cracked me up. But, alas, you are too right. People seem to think that you can get by only with the sizzle and that the steak is redundant.
      Thank you so much for reading me… so regularly. It feels awesome. 🙂

    1. I cringe from too much self promotion too Janaki. In fact I have to force myself to share my posts at all. But I remind myself of McDonald’s and just do it. 😀

  3. That’s actually a insightful post. It took me back to my first job where after appraisal my boss suggested,’ You are really hard working, you need to be more visible’. I did’nt know it then, but I know now what he meant 🙂

  4. Pingback: Sunday Brunch (#6) | Serenely Rapt

  5. Ha ha ha Dagny. I had read the McDonald part somewhere but what I loved was the revelation on why my work was not being appreciated 😉 I better start eating pudding… LOL!! You might just be responsible if you find my FB posts going Blah blah blah blah blah, I blog at aspoonfullofideas… Blah blah blah Blah.. have you read my post on aspoonfullofideas. He he he

    1. Poornima, I am beginning to realize that I have created loads of trouble for myself. I ought not to have shown you how to eat pudding. My goose is cooked now. Alas! 🙁

      So glad you liked this. I look forward to your blah blah blah… 🙂 Thank you for that lovely comment. 🙂

  6. Beautiful post, loved how you very subtly brought out the fact that in today’s world, the only way to stay relevant in public memory is to stay at the forefront of everybody’s minds…

    1. Thank you Jairam. As Suresh very perceptively summarized, nowadays there is more ‘sizzle’ than ‘steak’. That was the main point of the post… 🙂

      Thank you for coming by… 🙂

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